Thursday, March 31, 2016

the handprints on my dishwasher

I used to imagine what my husband and I would be like when we had our first child.

We would be parents who didn't act like "parents." We would be COOL PARENTS.

We wouldn't let our kid become the center of our universe. 

Our house wouldn't be taken over with blocks and trains and dolls. We would relegate all of that "stuff" to a small, designated area. I would not be that parent who talks about their kid incessantly, or who's social media is a gigantic, glaring spotlight on their kid, or who arranges their free time around their child's schedule and activities.


The time has come and I've had to eat all of those words. Every. Last. Crumb. 


Have you seen the State Farm commercial that shows a couple going through a typical life progression? 
The husband states, "We are never having kids." The wife's in labor in the very next shot.
"We are never moving to the suburbs." And then there he is, trimming the hedges.
My favorite part is when the exasperated dad says, "we are never having another kid" and the mom doesn't skip a beat as she unceremoniously announces, "I'm pregnant."
It's hysterical because it's TRUE. Kids have a way of turning our "nevers" into "next week" as they infiltrate every part of our lives.

You don't really see it coming, but before you know it, they take over every priority we thought we had, and the really insane part is? We don't even care. (Well, most of the time. haha). 

I'm convinced that if we're doing this parenting thing right at all, we will be consumed. 

The very nature of good parenting requires you to be all in. 


I began learning a lesson on day one of motherhood, and every day since I discover it in a new way. The other day as I walked by my handprint-covered dishwasher, I was reminded again:

Our babies leave fingerprints all over our lives. You can't compartmentalize this level of devotion to another person. There is no way my life could look the same as it did before. I can fight it....or, I can immerse myself unapologetically in the crazy-amazing adventure of motherhood, knowing it's worth it and it's only for a season.

The evidence of my motherhood is inescapable. Besides my dishwasher, take my car: obviously there's a giant carseat you can't miss, but also a myriad of toys and books scattered in the backseat for on-the-go entertainment. I have wipes, diapers, snacks, all the necessities. Not to mention a stroller that takes up 95% of my trunk space.

Oh, and my house? There is not a room you could walk in without seeing a toy, a picture of her, a kid potty, or some other toddler paraphernalia. And you'll probably leave with a Minnie Mouse sticker stuck to the bottom of your shoe. 

It's absurd.

Even my purse cannot escape the child takeover. Inside, I can usually find a single sock, a hair bow or three, and a diaper. Sometimes I hear a musical sound coming from my purse only to find Aven's play cell phone hanging out in there.

More proof that a little one is near: the slobber that seems to permanently reside on the shoulder of my t-shirt.

These scenarios should probably make me cringe, but the funny thing is, they make me smile. I look around at my life and see glimpses of her all throughout and it makes me proud. All of the outward signs are simply the testimony of my heart, if only you could see in there.

That's where you would find the fingerprints that I treasure: the ones left in invisible places. 
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is seen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18 

She's left her mark on my perspective, my faith, my purpose, my thoughts, my understanding of my Father God, my wants, my dreams, my whole heart. Those imprints are the ones that matter, and they aren't going anywhere. I'm forever changed. 


One day, my home will be tidy(er) and quiet. My purse will be organized without the ringing of fake cell phones. My car will be clean(er) with no goldfish in the creases or sippy cups rolling around in the floorboard. Those fingerprints on my dishwasher will have long since been Windexed away. 

One day, she'll leave me and go make her mark in a thousand other places. So for now, while she is here with me, I'll do my best to cherish everything that comes with this sweet privilege. I will encourage and embrace the handprints, both seen and unseen. 

Parenting changes everything. And I'm more than okay with that. 
I welcome it with a grateful heart. 

*All professional photos on this blog are (c) D Crowe Photography

Monday, March 14, 2016


Two and half weeks ago, I posted this on Instagram, begging for prayer:
"Sometimes life sends a gentle nudge along to remind you to take it all in because it's fleeting. Other times, that truth shoves you and knocks you down with its gravity, saying 'TODAY IS ALL WE HAVE.'"

We had just received the news that my precious mother-in-law, Brandon's step-mom, was diagnosed with AML, a type of leukemia. 

Our world stopped. Hard. 

The prognosis was given and we were completely devastated.

A year? That can't be right; that's not enough time! We need more time. 

Quickly, things got worse, much worse, and the forecast of time was drastically reduced. Days, only DAYS. And suddenly we were begging for that one year back. 


Just four days following that diagnosis, Joy was gone.

How can it be? Will it ever seem real?

Those few days were a time warp. Time was moving not at all, and so fast we couldn't catch our breath.

We stood bedside, we prayed, we paced, we cried, we hugged, we told stories, we sobbed, we held hands, we stood in the gap. For each other. For Joy. We told her we loved her. Again and again and again. We love you so much, Joy. You were so easy to love.

I wish I didn't know this, but now I can confirm: those hospice walls have heard prayers that only the language of the heart can utter, because the actual words in my mouth, they just wouldn't come. 


Every time my two year old asks "Mimi Joy?" my heart simultaneously swells and breaks. We will never stop talking about her and remembering. Remembering is a gift, and I plan to use it to it's fullest until the memories are frayed and faded and worn at the edges. I'll never put them on a shelf. They will be part of our everyday; she will be part of our everyday. It's the least we can do for someone who did so much for so many. 

If you knew Joy at all, you know this is true.


As I sit here, remembering, I still long for that year. The year we thought we would have; the year we resented until it was traded for less. 

What a difference a new perspective makes. It's as if we started down a hallway with lots of doors and possibilities, only to discover all but one of them were locked.


I won't pretend to think I can sum Joy up in one single blog post, but some of my remembering has brought sweet moments from the past decade that I knew her back into view. Placing them here is my way of dusting them off, shining them up, and displaying them like pictures in a frame.

I will miss her amazing Christmas Eve breakfast tradition.

I will miss her checking in to see when she can babysit, and the "oh Shanna, we would love to!" whenever I was the one asking.

I will miss her texting Brandon about his daddy, whenever she had a concern.

I will miss her love for a good monogram. And all things Southern.

I will miss the heart conversations about life, motherhood, and marriage.

I will miss the way she would brag and dote on Aven and all of her grandkids in that proud grandmother way.

I will miss texts from her about the latest "Bachelor" cast-off and who should have gone home instead.

I will miss the way she would smirk and say "Brandon, you are just like your daddy."

I will miss the cards she sent in the mail for every occasion.

I will miss seeing her get easily choked up over prayers and sweet family moments.

I will miss the play-by-play texts of conversations she had with Aven while she was babysitting.

I will miss her helping hand, her servant heart, her kind and humble spirit.

I will miss her gift of encouragement. She was such a cheerleader to me when it came to my writing and my mothering.

I will miss seeing her snuggle up with Aven in her recliner, rocking the day away.

I will miss everything about her.

If you are in need of a reminder on the brevity and importance of life, as we all are from time to time, let me be the one to say it today:

All we have is now. Today. Holding back is not a luxury you have. Joy would tell you to live and love with your whole heart.

And we will.

We love you and miss you every day Joy.

"...we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8